History came to life today for history students at Penn High School when they heard what life was like in Nazi concentration camps from a woman whose family survived the Holocaust.
Today marks the 74th anniversary of Kristallnacht, or the “night of broken glass.”
Hundreds of students packed the auditorium to listen to Marion Blumenthal Lazan talk about that fateful day in 1938. Nazi storm troopers and German citizens launched an attack on Jews throughout Germany and Austria, forcing four-year-old Marion, her parents, and her brother into six years of living in refugee camps, and then onto the notorious concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen.
Unlike millions, her family survived the Holocaust, although shortly thereafter her father died. While Marion’s story is one of horror and hardship, her message to the students today was about tolerance and kindness.
“Tolerance is such an important thing in this world and if we’re not tolerant of others there can never be peace,” said Josie Meiss, a junior at Penn High School.
After Marion’s talk, Nathan Hess another student at Penn said it was “definitely it was a bigger impact hearing about it first person than reading about it. It opened my eyes to what really happened and it definitely made me more grateful for what I have today.”
Other students walked away from the talk with a greater understanding of the realities of the Holocaust. Riley Van de Voorde talked about the details of Marion’s talk, “for instance she was talking about the smell. And you don’t understand the smell of a concentration camp if you’re watching a documentary on T.V.”
Marion will be telling her compelling story Sunday afternoon at Temple Beth-El where they are holding a ceremony marking the anniversary of Kristallnacht. Marion's visit is sponsored by the Kurt and Tesseye Simon Holocaust Rememberance Fund in conjunction with Temple Beth-El. The ceremony is open to the public and information for it can be found on the Big Red Bar.